Fresh fish grilled under the open night sky, perfectly paired with the world’s oldest rum are just two of the authentic Bajan experiences that will be touted around the world as the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) brands 2018 the Year of Culinary Experiences. Keeping with tourism trends and targeting the ever-growing movement of foodie travellers, the company’s marketing efforts will be focused on tantalizing the taste buds with the diverse assortment of unique Bajan flavours.
CEO of the BTMI, William ‘Billy’ Griffith, shared the rationale behind the strategic move. “On the surface, naming 2018 the Year of Culinary Experiences sounds light and fun – tasty even, but it’s also a very intentional marketing tactic we’ve conceptualized to really hone in on the differentiating factors of brand Barbados. Everyone understands the competitive nature of the current business environment and in response to that, Barbados’ unique selling propositions are what continue to drive the BTMI’s marketing efforts year after year.”
“We successfully grew interest in destination Barbados with the Year of Sports in 2017; we saw several journalists and visitors eager to travel here to experience this phenomenon we’d generated by simply packaging those elements of Barbados we already have, and do well, in a fun and exciting way,” Griffith added. “So, when we looked to 2018, we once again thought about those unique experiences our island has to offer, experiences that boast both quality and longevity. We were all in agreement on this and I’m happy to say that the revered culinary landscape of Barbados will be heavily integrated into our marketing and PR efforts in all of our source markets this year.”
The calendar for the Year of Culinary Experiences aptly reflects the breadth of gastronomic fare available in Barbados. It comprises opportunities to partake of everything from the most famous ham cutters to the best seafood on island, but even beyond the food are festivals and other cultural events that one simply cannot separate from the true Bajan experience.
Kick off with the Barbados Sugar and Rum Season
Officially launched last year, the Barbados Sugar and Rum Season was conceptualized by the BTMI’s sister company, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), and was inspired by the time-honoured tradition of the King and Queen of the crop. From January through March, this season will provide a memorable tribute to Barbados’ world-renowned indigenous spirit and its rich history built on centuries of sugar production, through a series of events steeped in Bajan history. Tours of well-known distilleries and Great Houses, mixology road shows, dinners and educational lectures, are only some of the many events to look forward to in this homage to Barbados’ yesteryears.
Oistins Fish Festival
Over the years, Oistins has become a culinary and cultural fusion of flavours enjoyed by visitors and locals alike. The annual fish festival, held over Easter weekend, will be one of the highlights of Barbados’ culinary calendar. Fresh fish and other delicacies, grilled and drizzled with the unique tastes of Barbados are a must for any food-lover. Plus, this year’s new and improved festival promises to bring even more zest to the open-air spectacle.
The Barbados Food and Rum Festival
It’s the Year of Culinary Experiences and the BTMI’s signature event, the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, is the perfect anchor. Once again, they will bring together some of the best local, regional and international chef and mixology talent for a unique festival of flavour. Local foods and the island’s famous spirit – rum, will be the highlight of this period of festivities, coupled with beach parties and other exciting cultural experiences that mark the annual festival.
At the heart of the Year of Culinary Experiences is highlighting the delectable gems found in this gastronomical wonderland. Traditional dishes such as flying fish and cou cou, roasted breadfruit bowls and Saturday morning pudding and souse will all be on display. Internationally acclaimed local eateries such as Cuz’s Fish Shack on Pebbles Beach are the authentic Bajan experiences everyone comes to enjoy that inspired the Year of Culinary Experiences.
In addition to the matchless authentic eats found across the island, what makes Barbados’ culinary landscape so special is the diversity of gastronomic fare found in its 166 square miles. From the West Coast to the South Coast, from Italian to American, there is something for every palate. To help diners manoeuvre the vast terrain, the BTMI will also be promoting the re-DISCOVER program, which offers attractive specials at participating restaurants throughout the year.
New dining experiences
What does an island with numerous savoury dining experiences love? More. New additions to the culinary landscape are widely celebrated, and of note are two new restaurants, both located in the quaint historic village of Speightstown. Hugo’s Barbados opened its doors in late 2017. The contemporary turquoise-themed, beach inspired restaurant offers spectacular views and international cuisine. Not far away, The Top Deck by acclaimed local chef Jason Howard, is scheduled to open on Valentine’s night. Overlooking the calm West Coast waters, The Top Deck promises fresh, authentic Caribbean cuisine, featuring the best in local produce.
Eat of the best
It goes without saying that an island abundant in illustrious watering holes would be brimming with talented culinary artists. Barbadian chefs and mixologists such as Dameain Williams, Jamaal Bowen, Willis Griffith and Damian Leach have travelled around the world, amassing awards and accolades for their flair and finesse in the kitchen or behind the bar. Several of these artisans will be featured at the Barbados Food and Rum Festival, and the Art of Cuisine, but can also be found plying their trade at establishments across the island.
Beach and Wellness Festival
Under the umbrella of the foodie movement, the BTMI will also cater to those health food enthusiasts with the second installation of the Barbados Beach and Wellness Festival. After a successful inaugural festival in 2017, this year’s event will be even bigger and more diverse. The food stalls will feature a variety of authentic and interesting delicacies perfect for those discerning foodies.